Egyptian and Greek Architecture
Egyptian and Greek Architecture
Egyptian architecture is divided into three periods, according to researchers and Egyptologists. Various types of architectural works were constructed during each period. The architecture of the first period is known as Ancient Empire architecture. It lasted from 5000 B.C. to around 3000 B.C. and was initiated by King Menes. The Great Pyramids of Giza and Saqqara were built during this time period. Bricks were used in the construction of dwellings and tombs. Hieroglyphs were used to embellish architectural structures and works. The Ancient Empire Architecture was followed by the Middle Empire Architecture, which existed between 3000 and 1700 B.C. The rock-cut tombs were built during this time period. The final period was the New Empire Architecture, which saw the construction of temples such as Ammon, Karnak, Luxor, and Edfou. This epoch occurred between the years 1700 B.C. and 350 B.C. (Strudwick & Strudwick 123). The architecture established in the New Empire is regarded as the best and has had a significant influence on modern forms of architecture. Early Egyptian architecture had a significant impact on subsequent architectural forms.
Egyptian architecture was made possible by the Egyptians’ vast scientific knowledge. For example, scientific knowledge enabled them to create colors that would not fade over millions of years. They were able to move massive stones used in the construction of temples, monuments, and pyramids by using geometry, chemistry, and mechanics. It also enabled them to produce various types of glass. We are still unable to produce some of the colors and glass types that the Egyptians produced and used in their architectural work.
Egyptian architecture is considered unique, with a number of common and distinguishing features. First and foremost, Egyptian architecture was unique in that it was massive in size and mass. The main materials used in the construction of the structures were stones and sun baked mud bricks. Because of its scarcity, wood was rarely used. Because they were readily available and easy to work with, the most common types of stones used in architectural work were limestone, granite, and sandstone. Stones were set aside for tombs and temples, while mud bricks were used to construct fortresses, temple walls, precincts, and fortresses. Mud collected from the Nile was used to build houses. The Egyptians gathered the mud, formed it into molds, and dried it in the scorching Egyptian sun. The hard bricks were used in the house construction. The monuments were made of massive single stones that were up to twenty-five feet long at times (Dinsmoor & Anderson 147).
Columns in Egyptian architecture were also unusual. The architecture was also distinctive in that it was completely covered in vibrant colors and carvings. The Egyptians decorated their buildings in a variety of ways. For example, they covered their buildings in pictures, symbols, and designs that were applied to all parts of the structure. They carved the building and mostly colored it with crude primary colors. The interior and exterior walls were covered in vibrantly colored hieroglyphic, pictorial frescoes and carvings. The carvings and paintings on the buildings represented the Egyptian people’s religion and rulers. The scarab, vulture paintings, and solar disks were all symbolic pieces of art. Other common motifs included the papyrus plant, palm leaves, the sacred beetle, and lotus buds and flowers. Hieroglyphs were created on building walls to decorate them and to record the civilization’s major historical events and occurrences.
Another distinguishing feature of Egyptian architecture is the use of beams and lintels in the construction of structures. The beams and lintels built into doors, windows, and other openings aided in the structural support of the massive structures. Finally, another distinguishing feature of Egyptian architecture was the use of slanting and sloping walls, which allowed for the construction of massive structures. When compared to today’s structures, the Egyptians believed that sloping structures provided the most strength. This was primarily used to build religious monuments. The buildings had flat roofs made of massive blocks supported by closely spaced columns.
Egyptian architecture was influenced by a variety of sources. The main influence on Egyptian architecture was religion. There is a strong connection between Egyptian religion and architecture. Egyptian religion was distinguished by two major characteristics. For starters, it had religious leaders who were extremely knowledgeable and wielded unrivaled power. Second, it had religious rites that were fixed, mysterious, and traditional. Both of these characteristics were replicated in tombs and temples. For example, newly built temples were heavily fortified, and only the kings and priests had access to and use of them. The monuments were enormous and were intended to last forever. They believed in life after death through the process of resurrection. As a result, the wealthy and ruler class built lordly tomb houses in preparation for the afterlife resurrection.
The geography of the land also had an impact on Egyptian architecture. The majority of the monuments and structures are located along the Nile, which was considered the lifeline of ancient Egypt. It permitted the use of hardened bricks in architectural work made from dried mud collected from its banks. The architectural work was also influenced by Egyptian geology. Limestone from the Mokattam Hills, as well as granite and sandstone from Aswan in the south, were plentiful in the region (Darling 165). They enabled the construction of massive monuments because they were readily available. They were employed in both construction and decoration. The climate had an impact on the architecture. Flat roofs were created because Egypt is a dry country with no need for rain drainage. The flat roofs helped to insulate against the hot sun. The hot sun allowed the bricks used in the construction work to dry out.
Early Egyptian architecture greatly influenced architectural works in subsequent societies. The establishment of basic principles elements of the column was one of the most significant influences of Egyptian architecture on Greek architecture. The Egyptians created the basic design of a column, which consisted of three major parts. A pedestal column, a main column, and a capital column were the components. The Greeks used to imitate this basic Egyptian design in their architectural work. It served as a foundation for the development of the three classical architectural ranks. They frequently used the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian styles in their work. The style of the capitals used, as well as the shape and size of the columns, distinguish these approaches.
Egyptian architecture had a significant impact on Greek architecture. It is worth noting that architecture in both Greece and Egypt replicated the societies’ worldviews and fundamental principles. Greece’s architecture, like that of Egypt, was based on chronometer concepts. Structures were built to support the human spirit’s eternal existence. This was seen in some of the earliest structures, such as Athens’ Parthenon. The Egyptians used geometry and mathematical principles in their archeological work. The Greeks then perfected it and used it to build temples. Stones were fitted together to form desired structures, just as they were in Egypt. This was observed in the Parthenon, which is described as having perfect geometrical and mathematical precision in its width and length dimensions (Darling 74).
Architectural work in Greece, like in Egypt, was intended to honor the Kings and gods. In Greece, for example, the Parthenon Temple was built in honor of Parthenon, the Greek goddess of wisdom. The Temple of Karnak at Luxor and the Dodekatheon are good examples of how Egyptian culture influenced Greek architecture. Both structures were massive in size. They were meant to represent and provide a home for the gods. They both had raised flat roofs supported by a number of Columns. The Karnak, for example, had 134 columns. Raised relief carvings were used to decorate both temples. Relief carvings on temples were intended to represent ideological and religious functions. Important war records, for example, were made on both temples. These provided a means for event preservation and historical research.
The influence of Egyptian culture can be seen in temple construction. The main similarity is seen in the wall construction. The temple’s external walls resembled a fortress, separating the temple from its surroundings. The walls were built to withstand any environmental stresses. Similarly, in Greece, temple walls were designed and built to absorb as much as possible from the surrounding environment and landscape. Decorations were made on the outer walls and courtyards, just like in the Egyptian Temple, to symbolize the rulers’ ability to fight evil forces. Similarly, in Greece, decorations represented rulers’ achievements (Arnold 47). Temples in Greece, like those in Egypt, had raised floors and platforms, just like those in Egypt. The temples had massive gates made of two tapering towers. To represent the king’s authority, the pylons were carved and painted with scenes of kings and gods. Two obelisks and Pharaoh statues stood in front of the pylons. The inner court consisted of a large hall with kings and gods decorations. Pylons led deeper into the structure to a Hypostyle hall. The halls in both temples were completely roofed. Only the central aisle was illuminated by windows. Wall carvings depicting scenes from various religious rituals were created.
Another comparison can be made between the Parthenon of Athens, which was built between 490 and 488 B.C., and the Great Pyramid of Egypt to demonstrate how Egyptian architecture influenced Greek architecture. The Great Pyramid was built to achieve visual harmony between man and his surroundings through the use of complex geometry. Complex geometry was also used in the Parthenon to represent perfect harmony achieved through architectural work. The Parthenon of Athens, like the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, was built to honor the local deity and goddess Athena. The same material was used to construct both structures. The Greeks also used limestone that the Egyptians had used in the construction of the Great Pyramid of Egypt. Stone used in the construction of the Great Pyramids had to be transported from Mount Pentelicus to the construction site.
Doric Order Temples in Greece include the Temple of Hephaestus and the Parthenon. According to research, the Doric order temples originated in Egypt. It demonstrated that the Doric order was first used near the Nile at Beni-Hassan. According to archaeological findings, the site was built with polygonal stone pillars beneath an abacus capital. Other Doric order evidence was found in the south at Deir-el-Bahari, which was outside of Thebes and Karnak. The bend of the stylobate, the taper in the naos walls, and the slight bulge of the columns as they became longer all had a delicate relationship in Egypt. The cigar-shaped columns of Greece’s Parthenon had been seen in Egyptian archeological sites. Like the Doric temples, some Egyptian temples were built using the same principles that were used in the construction of Greek ionic temples. This includes Philae’s Temple of Isis. The principles can be seen in the Erechtheum’s Ionic construction, the Temple of Apollo at Didyma, and the Temple of Athena Nike (Darling 132). Finally, Egypt’s architectural work can be said to have had a significant influence on Greek architecture.
Dieter Arnold. The Ancient Egyptian Architecture Encyclopedia. I. B. Tauris, New York, NY, 2003. Print.
Janina, you are adorable. Greece’s architecture. Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport, CT, 2004. Print.
William Dinsmoor and James Anderson An Account of the Historic Development of Greek Architecture. Biblo & Tannen Publishers, Princeton, NJ, 1993. Print.
Helen Strudwick and Nigel Strudwick The Ancient Egyptian Architecture Encyclopedia. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003. Print.